Over and over during the eighth season of America’s Got Talent, the judges boasted that this was the best season they’d ever had.
There certainly is an argument to be made in favor of such, but it would mostly be due to the absolutely deplorable job the judges had gone out of their way to do year after year before then.
This is not a problem that began with the current team of judges (though the current team revels in stupidity unlike any other). Straight from the very beginning, the judges have seemed to be operating under the assumption that it doesn’t matter how bad the acts are since all but the best of them won’t be remembered a year later at all; that, as long as they have a good winner and a few solid runners-up, they can make the rest of the Top 20/40/48/60 as horrible as they want.
Consequently, since the beginning of the America’s Got Talent Examiner, I have done my part to prove them wrong.
The following are the absolute worst of the worst, the acts who don’t even deserve to be called acts, the ones who had as much talent as Howie Mandel has hair.
This is Suck Month.
Here are the rules:
#1: No Season 1 acts.
For Season 1, only sixty-one acts passed the open calls (and only fifty-eight showed up for the semifinals). Under these circumstances, it’s not surprising that some of the acts included in the Top 40 were pretty bad since they were literally scraping the bottom of the barrel to begin with.
There were definitely some acts that called into question just how bad the ones that were rejected could have possibly been, but with so few to choose from at all, it’s not worth it to hold it against them.
#2: No acts that America, to any extent, actually voted for.
Talent, like many things, is in the eye of the beholder, so with respects to anyone who may possibly disagree, any act that made it to the semifinals on America’s vote, or who was eliminated in the first round after being rejected as a judges’ choice, is exempt from consideration.
Don’t get me wrong, some of America’s choices were just as bad as the judges’ (and rest assured, they will be getting their own list later), but these are the acts that only idiots and trollers would dare try to defend. These are the acts that were beyond bad; that should have sufficed as proof, not only that the judges were too incompetent for their jobs, but that they were actually invested in doing their jobs as horribly as possible.
#3: No acts better than a similar act exempted by Rule #2.
If an act, though horrible, was such for the same reason as another act America did vote for but to a lesser degree, it too shall be excluded.
It’s Halloween, and time to haunt the judges with their past idiocy again.
#31: Tummy Talk (Season 8)
By sheer coincidence, it wound up becoming a tradition during Suck Month to use the #31 spot to highlight the judges’ commitment to terribleness by giving it to an act that had the potential to be good but was clearly included with the intent of being terrible.
During the first Suck Month countdown in 2011, the spot went to Manuela Horn, better known as the yodeling dominatrix, who received the first ever performance-ending XXX after she demonstrated that she wasn’t a one-trick pony.
For the 2012 installment, the spot was given to Ulysses, who actually did have a good voice and, with the right direction, could have lived up to the standard set by Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., provided that the judges had ever informed him that singing vintage theme songs wasn’t the way to go.
For 2013, the spot will be going to Tummy Talk, who, like Manuela Horn, proved that they had the potential to be good and were punished for not being something horrible.
Imagine if the Blue Man Group had instead chosen to name themselves “Eating Twinkies.” In a nutshell, that’s the mistake Tummy Talk made. What should have been just a silly break in an otherwise exciting show became the act’s centerpiece.
It would have been fine if that had been the last time America had seen it, but as the namesake of the act, that never happened. None of the judges dared to ask what else they could do or suggested that this by itself would not sustain.
They didn’t even force them to perform in Las Vegas to see if there was more to them, or even if the act would be as good the second time as the first.
And when, against all expectations, Tummy Talk actually did take a step in the right direction, Howie Mandel actually punished them for it. As Stern correctly noted after Mandel had given his criticism, “they set you up to fail.”
#30: Brad Byers (Season 8)
I couldn’t overlook this. I just couldn’t. Sure, Brad Byers wasn’t nearly as bad as some of his predecessors that have already been bumped off the list. On the contrary, he may very well be the best sideshow performer on Earth.
But the problem isn’t that Byers was bad at his act. It’s that the judges have been barking up the sideshow tree for eight years to absolutely no avail.
With the exception of Season 2, every season of AGT has had sideshow danger acts represented, and not once has one of them even qualified for a judges choice.
- Dave the One-Man Sideshow (Season 1)
- George “The Giant” MacArthur (Season 3)
- Coney Island Chris (Season 4)
- Swing Shift Sideshow (Season 5)
- Captain & Maybelle (Season 6)
- Horse (Season 7)
Six attempts in seven seasons, all ending in failure, and yet, not only did they try it again for Season 8, they tried it twice, including both Brad Byers and “Sword & Pole” Alexandr Magala, both of whom were also eliminated in the first round.
That should be it. That should be all the proof the judges need that America will never vote for a sideshow act. Even Brad Byers, who has held multiple Guinness world records through his act, was not good enough.
Think they’re done trying to force it on America? No, of course not.
#29: Coney Island Chris (Season 4)
One of Byers’s predecessors, some slack is being cut to Coney Island Chris Allison since his act obviously was not meant to be taken seriously.
And yet, that is precisely the problem. Despite (presumably) putting his life on the line, Allison could not let himself be taken seriously.
And not in the sense that he joked with the audience in a way similar to Mark Faje or John & Owen. He had a little bit of that, but more often than not, Allison’s comedy involved passing himself off as a scatter-brained simpleton.
Exactly the kind of guy you want to see holding lighter fluid and a box of matches.
Allison’s low point undoubtedly came during the open calls, where, following eating a light bulb, he apparently bit into a Halloween capsule to make it look like he was spitting up blood.
If America’s Got Talent can only have one rule, it should be this: Don’t screw with the paramedics. And the first thing Coney Island Chris did on AGT was break it.
#28: Maricar (Season 5)
I’m aware it wasn’t exactly mature picking that as Maricar’s profile picture, but nothing else sums up her act quite like it.
Before Joe Castillo and David Garibaldi simultaneously proved that painting could be a stage show, Maricar attempted to do it two years before them during Season 5.
Only, while Castillo and Garibaldi actually had a plan, Maricar just dressed in revealing outfits while thrusting her hips up and down.
This was the most shallow ploy to create an act out of something possible. Employing that same logic, somebody could make a stage show out of stamp collecting too.
Please don’t put that theory to the test. The judges just might vote for it.
#27: Echo of Animal Gardens (Season 6)
You can’t really fault the animals on the AGT stage because they are not actually invested in the competition. They’re just doing what they were trained to do.
Their owners, however, are fair game, so no exemptions for animals will be given.
There are two problems that just absolutely cannot be ignored.
#1: Echo’s Las Vegas performance was a disaster.
There was no hiding it. Echo didn’t miss cues; he stopped responding to them completely. Midway through the act, Echo completely clammed up and forced the performance to end prematurely.
#2: The judges had rejected a nearly identical act during Season 1.
Remember how I said Season 1 acts were exempted from inclusion because they were scraping the bottom of the barrel for that season? Well, during Season 1, the open calls attracted another talking bird act called Wildlife Wendy, who was given three Xs before finishing her performance.
Wildlife Wendy’s acts and Echo of Animal Gardens were pretty much identical. Which begs the question: If this act wasn’t good enough for a season when AGT was desperate for talent, why was it good enough for a season where they were attracting more talent than anyone could ever know what to do with?
#26: Eleisha Miller (Season 4)
If anyone has earned the right to despise America’s Got Talent, judges and audience alike, for the rest of their life, it’s Ciana Pelekai.
Long before America turned her down and gave a shot at the semifinals to one of the most worthless things to ever appear on the AGT stage (exempting him, tragically, from inclusion on this list), Pelekai had auditioned to be on America’s Got Talent during Season 4.
During that Season, Pelekai was sorted into Group B, a set of acts that the judges (in their infinite wisdom) were so bad they weren’t even going to let them leave the airport after they had touched down in Las Vegas (by the way, Pelekai is from Hawaii; imagine getting off a flight that long only to be told it was all for nothing).
And instead, the judges took a bad copy of the villain from Cat’s Don’t Dance.
#25: Swing Shift Sideshow (Season 5)
The judges almost (by accident) made it through Season 5 without the usual complete waste of time sideshow act, but none other than Howie Mandel, the champion of all things crap himself, made sure that didn’t happen.
Essentially, Swing Shift differentiated themselves from other sideshow acts by spamming. They did absolutely nothing the judges had not seen hundreds of times before by other freak show carnival acts who auditioned before them. The only thing that was different was that there were three of them doing it all at once.
Much like with Echo of Animal Gardens, it needs to be asked: After so many acts had been rejected before them, why did it suddenly become perfect for the live stage when their standards were supposed to be even higher?
#24: Captain & Maybelle (Season 6)
Just like with Maricar, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Captain & Maybelle could arguably have been considered better than Swing Shift Sideshow, but they warrant higher inclusion because the purpose of Suck Month is less to ridicule the acts and more to ridicule the judges who included them.
For this reason, Captain & Maybelle warrant the higher spot. Because, by the judges own admission, even they didn’t want to watch this.
That is not an exaggeration. After passing them through the open calls, the judges made them an automatic pick in Las Vegas, putting them in the Top 48 without even requiring a performance from them.
Ordinarily, that’s supposed to mean they were really good; this was the honor reserved for many standouts of Season 6 like Team iLuminate, Silhouettes and the Miami All-Stars.
In this case, it meant the exact opposite: The judges gave them an automatic pass because they didn’t want to see them in Las Vegas.
That would be the logical conclusion, since, during their live performance, both Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne turned their chairs away from the act completely.
If that was how they felt about this act, why even bother letting it pass the open calls at all? If they had no desire to see it, what made them think America would feel any differently, especially given that every single sideshow performer forced on America before this point had been rejected too?
#23: Dave “The Cobra Kid” Weathers (Season 8)
I didn’t think so initially, but in hindsight, this was a really stupid act.
Weathers warrants additional scrutiny because, unlike every other animal act that has appeared live on America’s Got Talent, his animals were incapable of being trained.
Consequently, unlike Brad Byers or Chris Allison, Weathers had absolutely no control over his act. It was the same kind of danger as the average sideshow act, albeit with the added fault of being dumb and unpredictable.
The reality is that Weathers barely had any act to begin with. He had only one trick for his open call performance, and after that, he was out.
His live performance put an embarrassing cap on all of the problems that should have been obvious from the getgo. Weathers apparently had no idea what to do with the snake, and the snake wanted absolutely nothing to do with Weathers.
Which, in hindsight, was exactly what happened at the open calls too. His entire performance involved him harassing a snake that, while venomous, looked otherwise perfectly content to just sit there by himself and not bother anyone. At least not until that stupid human started prodding him and waving a balloon in his face.
#22: C.J. Dippa (Season 5)
Sideshow acts aren’t the only thing the judges can’t get it through their thick skulls America has no interest in. They also apparently cannot accept the fact that America has no interest in talent-deprived kids with delusions of celebrity and way too high opinions of themselves.
Eleisha Miller, though loud, obnoxious, and phony to the core, at least deserves credit for aspiring to something she might had a prayer of passing herself off as.
C.J. Dippa, in contrast, was all of that, but even more annoying in that he also presumed himself a gangster and a chick magnet.
#21: 2Unique (Season 8)
Despite having tried and failed with C.J. Dippa twice, first in the default 48 and later as one of Howie Mandel’s wild cards, they tried this idiot formula again for Season 8.
Only this time it was even further removed from reality. C.J. Dippa, if nothing else, at least aspired to be a current rap artist.
In contrast, 2Unique predominantly channeled Vanilla Ice.
After they performed live, Mandel described the act as being reminiscent of the Disney Channel, and yet that description is still too kind.
2Unique were the Disney Channel in the early 90s. You know, that brief period in between funk and gangster that everyone who lived through now tries to pretend had nothing but cartoons in it.
#20: Sally Cohn (Season 5)
Forget the fact that, with her hand whistling technique, Sally Cohn did nothing that couldn’t have been replicated by the average preschool mouth recorder band. The judges should have buzzed this act off the stage as soon as she’d introduced herself.
Because, in fairness, Sally Cohn wasn’t an act. She was a saleswoman. Immediately after describing her talent of hand whistling, Cohn mentioned that she’d written a book about it, of which she just conveniently had several copies on hand with her.
The first rule of AGT should be never to allow an act on the stage who will screw with the paramedics. The second should be that the primary intent of all performers actually be to perform.
#19: Those Funny Little People (Season 6)
Never assume that an act can never get any worse. No matter how low the bar has been set, it is always humanly possible to fail to get over it.
Those Funny Little People proved that in spades.
On the surface, this could have been just a mildly amusing mascot act in the same vein as the ZOOperstars. Not anything good, of course, but it shouldn’t have been something bad enough for this kind of list.
That all changed, however, when Piers Morgan stated his disapproval of the act, after Howie Mandel outright confessed that the reason he loved them was because Morgan hated them.
And at that very minute, Those Funny Little People became Howie Mandel’s Nasty Little Flunkies. They harassed Morgan, followed him around, broke into his dressing room and constantly hovered around him during their performances, all in an effort to irritate Piers Morgan as much as possible.
It was a common tactic on America’s Got Talent to try to compensate for one’s shortcomings by antagonizing Piers Morgan, but this is the only one of two acts that ever stooped to that level before their backs were against the wall.
#18: Indiggo (Season 3)
Ideally, this is the point where you should start being horrified, both at the memories of some truly terrible, completely nonredeemable acts, and by looking at that number and realizing just how many more acts this bad or worse are yet to come.
Indiggo were not just horrible like a bad real life copy of Connie & Carla. They also ensured that the judges should have had absolutely no incentive to advance them beyond the open calls by demonstrating that they would never get any better either.
They made this apparent by flat out ranting, in the face of the judges’ criticism and booing of the audience alike, that they were going to be famous, that they were going to become stars, and that they absolutely deserved it.
So confident were they in themselves that, during the results show, when they were called out to stand beside Nuttin’ But Stringz, then the favorite to win for the entire season, it was the Indiggo twins who were flashing triumphant sneers in the other’s direction.
They were already convinced that they were the full package, so what chance was there that they would do anything to improve themselves?
So what did the judges do? Feed into those delusions, of course.
#17: David Johnson (Season 4)
David Johnson was given the benefit of a doubt and placed lower on the list because he clearly never intended for his act to be taken seriously.
But he still warrants absolute ridicule because, even as a comedic singer, Johnson couldn’t possibly have been any worse.
Johnson’s was the oldest ploy in the AGT open call book: Trying to compensate for the fact that he had zero talent by trying to pass himself off as a comedic parody act. This was something thousands of talentless dullards had tried before.
Yet despite being highly familiar with it, the judges still fell for it. All because Johnson wrote a song insinuating that one of them, David Hasselhoff, had an enormous package.
Again, even by the standards Johnson had set for himself, his act was terrible. His jokes weren’t funny, his rhymes could not possibly have sounded any more forced, and despite his subject of choice being someone who couldn’t possibly be any more open to ridicule than he is already, he completely failed to capitalize on it.
Johnson even made mention during the song of Hasselhoff’s car without making reference to it being a talking car. Like many things about Hasselhoff, that joke tells itself, yet Johnson was too dull and uninspired for any of them.
Aaralyn & Izzy (Season 8)
I have a confession to make. I love metal. Metallica, Disturbed, Sevendust, Stained, Audioslave, and yes, even Nickelback. Those were the names that defined my youth and of which I have some of the fondest memories.
And it is as a fan of metal that I have to tell you: Aaralyn & Izzy are total crap.
For starters, the “band” is compiled of the two most expendable members in such a band: The singer and the drummer.
Or, more accurately, the growler and the drummer. The difference between all the lead singers in all of the aforementioned bands and Aaralyn is that they can actually sing. In contrast, Aaralyn only had the growling, and even that she didn’t do well enough to be intelligible in the process.
Yes, it was pretty incredible to see a six-year-old girl devil growling, as it would have equally been to see her lighting farts on fire or deep-throating a banana.
“Unexpected” should never be treated as a synonym for “good.”